One of the best things about digital marketing for small-business owners is that much of it can be done on a budget, and email marketing is no exception. And regarding effectiveness, email marketing tops the list.
Most online consumers use email rather than social media or blogs. There are more than three billion email users this year, and 33.8% of American consumers actively check their email throughout the day. Additionally, email marketing results in an average 122% return-on-investment, outperforming every other marketing channel.
If you’re ready to test the waters, follow our quick guide to get started with email marketing.
Lay the Foundation
There are many tools on the market that help you implement, manage, and automate your email campaigns, saving you time and improving your effectiveness. An email service provider (ESP) serves as the heart and brains of your email marketing campaign. It’s the company whose platform you’ll use to create emails, launch campaigns, manage your contact lists, and review your analytics.
There are dozens of ESPs, so take your time reviewing your options to find one that meets your needs. MailChimp is a popular option for small businesses due to its intuitive platform and low costs. There is a free plan, and paid plans start as low as $10 per month.
Along with an ESP, you’ll need at least one email template. An email template is what you use to design your emails so you can incorporate text, images, and links in an organized and visually appealing format. ThemeForest has a robust library of 1,500 downloadable email templates available for as little as $6.
Build a Robust Email List
An email list is the bread and butter of your email marketing efforts. The more contacts on your list, the more results you can see. Once you choose an ESP, import your contact list into the system. You may want to segment them based on groups, such as current, past, and prospective customers.
Remember, you need permission from these contacts to email them. Most email service providers have permission guides, and if you don’t follow their rules, you can get booted from the platform. Only email contacts who have initiated some form of communication with your business, such as making a purchase or filling out a form on your website, should comprise your contact list.
One of the best ways to build your email list is to offer exclusive content or special offers in exchange for an email address. Some businesses use forms that offer downloadable guides, a newsletter, or a promotion and ask for a name and email address. Clearly tell your viewers that by entering their email addresses on your site, they will be receiving emails from you regularly. This kind of disclaimer can help you stay in line with permission guides.
Additionally, while a large contact list is great, a quality list is more important.
Build Your First Campaign
You have a platform to send emails from, a template to feature your information, and a list to contact. Now you need a message to share. Depending on your goals and who you’re emailing, there are numerous types of campaigns you can send, including newsletters, promotional offers, or general announcements.
For your first campaign, consider your goals. What action do you want your email recipients to take? A newsletter is ideal if you want to provide education or encourage people to research your website. Or, if you want to gain sales, you can send a special offer on a product or service.
Whatever type of campaign you choose, make your message clear through your text, imagery, and links. Explain how recipients benefit from the email they’re reading, entice them to keep reading with imagery or bold headlines, and inspire action with a clear call-to-action button that links to your site.
Follow Email Marketing Dos and Avoid the Don’ts
Now that you’ve established an email marketing road map, familiarize yourself with these tips to maintain best practices and avoid common mistakes:
- DO use mobile-responsive email templates. Up to 75% of emails are opened on a phone, so using an email template that formats correctly for a mobile view is essential for your campaign’s success.
- DO personalize your message. It makes your email seem friendlier. If you have the names of your email contacts, most ESPs make it easy to add a first name tag that implements each person’s name to the email automatically.
- DON’T break CAN-SPAM Anything you send must include a valid postal address and an option to opt out of your emails. Once someone opts out, cease emailing them.
- DON’T send emails without testing them first. Once you build your email, send a test message so you can see how it will appear in your contacts’ inboxes, and check for misspellings or broken links. Make any necessary changes before sending the email to your contacts.
With this guide and these tips in hand, you can feel more confident getting started with email marketing and launching your first email campaign. Start experimenting with campaign ideas and make adjustments based on how your audience responds. You’ll be well on your way to a successful email marketing strategy.